The intensification process of the livestock sector has been characterized in recent decades by increasing output of product per hectare, increasing stocking rate, including more concentrated feed in the diet, and improving the genetic merit of the breeds. In dairy farming, the effects of intensification on the environmental impact of milk production are not completely clarified. The aim of the current study was to assess the environmental impacts of dairy production by a life cycle approach and to identify relations between farming intensity and environmental performances expressed on milk and land units. A group of 28 dairy farms located in northern Italy was involved in the study; data collected during personal interviews of farmers were analyzed to estimate emissions (global warming potential, acidification, and eutrophication potentials) and nonrenewable source consumption (energy and land use). The environmental impacts of milk production obtained from the life cycle assessment were similar to those of other recent studies and showed high variability among the farms. From a cluster analysis, 3 groups of farms were identified, characterized by different levels of production intensity. Clusters of farms showed similar environmental performances on product basis, despite important differences in terms of intensification level, management, and structural characteristics. Our study pointed out that, from a product perspective, the most environmentally friendly way to produce milk is not clearly identifiable. However, the principal component analysis showed that some characteristics related to farming intensification, such as milk production per cow, dairy efficiency, and stocking density, were negatively related to the impacts per kilogram of product, suggesting a role of these factors in the mitigation strategy of environmental burden of milk production on a global scale. Considering the environmental burden on a local perspective, the impacts per hectare were positively associated with the intensification level.
|Titolo:||How can farming intensification affect the environmental impact of milk production?|
|Parole Chiave:||environmental impact; intensive farming; life cycle assessment; milk production|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore AGR/19 - Zootecnica Speciale|
|Progetto:||Individuazione di modelli di aziende zootecniche per produzioni di eccellenza di latte e derivati|
|Data di pubblicazione:||lug-2014|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.3168/jds.2013-7530|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|